Piper’s Crag Stone, Addingham Moorside, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 08497 47097

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.44 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.212 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  3. Piper’s Stone

Getting Here

Piper Stone (photo by James Elkington)

Follow the directions to reach our superb Swastika Stone from Ilkley, visible due to the iron railing that surround and protect the carving on the cliff edge.  From here, keep walking west along the Millenium Way footpath, over the stile of the first wall, then the second wall—six in all—for ⅔-mile (1km), where you’ll see another small crag of rocks on your right, just yards from the footpath.  You’re damn close!

Archaeology & History

When the great J. Romilly Allen (1882) visited the Ilkley petroglyphs in 1878, the Piper Stone was one that he wandered over to see—and he had this to say of it:

“At the edge of Piper’s Crag is a horizontal rock-surface, and on a portion of it, measuring 5ft by 7ft, are carved a series of fifteen cups varying in diameter from 2 to 3 ins.  Of these, one is surrounded by a single ring, four by a double ring, and one by a triple ring.”

Hedges 1986 sketch
Cowling’s 1940 sketch

This type of description, whilst accurate on the whole, rarely does justice to the carving.  It was echoed more than 100 years later in John Hedges’ (1986) survey, when he described the large rock jutting out to possess merely, “a complicated design of cups, rings and grooves.”  When Boughey & Vickerman (2003) did their follow-up survey, they added nothing more.

In an attempt to give some sort of meaning to the carving (and many others), the late great Eric Cowling (1940; 1946) placed it within Henri Breuil’s (1934) classification system, which assigns all carvings different degrees of complexity and form, from Classes 1-4.  The Piper Stone entered Breuil’s Class 3A, being one “with deeply cut and smoothed down grooves.” Whilst this may sound good on the surface, in truth such classifications are utterly meaningless outside of the tables and graphs of statisticians and the boring.  They give the appearance of quantitative research, but they have as much bearing on the nature of the carvings as an energy dowser healing the place with crystals.

Piper Stone (photo by Josh Millgate)
Close-up of design (photo by James Elkington)

In the flesh, in the real world—so to speak—from the Piper Stone we are looking, not just at the carving, but its place in the landscape: an ingredient that more and more emerging archaeologists are recognizing has a synergistic relationship with some petroglyphs.  And here we have an impressive landscape that reaches out ahead of us for many miles.  We look primarily to the north: the Land of the Dead in many traditional northern cultures.  But our panorama here is 180º, with east and west horizons having the potential for measuring equinoctial periods in the cycle of the year.  But in truth this is sheer speculation.

It’s a worthwhile carving to see, both for its views and its excess of non-linearity.  In its form, Rorscharch impressions of early humans emerge; the usual solar and lunar symbols can be seen; star systems seem apparent; maps or settlement ground-plans could be there.  We know that somewhere within it is the animistic ‘spirit’ of the rock itself, but the forms it exalts are, once again, all but lost on us modern folk…


  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “Notice of Sculptured Rocks near Ilkley,” in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 38, 1882.
  2. Allen, J. Romilly, “Cup and Ring Sculptures on Ilkley Moor,” in The Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist, volume 2, 1896.
  3. Anonymous, Walks around Cup and Ring Stones, TIC: Ilkley n.d. (c.1990).
  4. Baildon, W. Paley, “Cup and Ring Carvings: Some Remarks on their Classification and a New Suggestion as to their Origin and Meaning,” in Archaeologia, volume 61, 1909.
  5. Bennett, Paul, “Cup-and-Ring Art”, in Towards 2012, volume 4, 1998.
  6. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  7. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  8. Breuil, Henri, “Presidential Address for 1934,” in Proceedings Prehistoric Society East Anglia, 7:3, 1934.
  9. Collyer, Robert & Turner, J.H., Ilkley: Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
  10. Cowling, E.T., ‘A Classification of West Yorkshire Cup and Ring Stones,’ in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 1940.
  11. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  12. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to Josh Millgate and James Elkington for use of their photos in this site profile.  Cheers guys. 🙂

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Baildon Moor Carving (173), West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13844 40347

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.40 (Hedges)

Getting Here

The lovely ‘Carving 173’, Baildon Moor

From Baildon go up onto the moor, turning left to go round Baildon Hill and onto Eldwick, stopping at the car park at the top of the brow. Cross the road and walk along past carving 184, making sure you keep right sticking to the footpath that runs along the edge of the slope (not onto the flats & up to Baildon Hill itself). There are several carvings along here, but this one’s on the right-side of the widening path, another 300 yards past carving 184. Keep your eyes peeled – y’ can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

Carving 173, looking south

In my 1982 notebook I described this as “a very well-preserved cup-and-ring stone, with two cup-and-rings and seven other cup-marks. There seems to be faint remains of other lines carved by some of the cups.”  And the description is as apt today as it was back then – though neither of the surrounding ‘rings’ are complete.  However, as the photos here indicate, adjacent to the main cup-and-ring near the centre of the stone another incomplete cup-and-ring is evident, emerging from the natural crack that runs across it.  In the subsequent surveys of Hedges (1986) and Boughey & Vickerman (2003) they somehow only saw one cup-and-ring on this rock.  Easily done I suppose!  In certain light there’s what may have been an attempted second surrounding ring starting on one of the cups…but I’ll leave that for a later date…

CR-173 (after Hedges)
Slippery when wet!

There may also have been intent to carve another ring around one of the other cups on the northern half of the stone.  This possible fourth ring and its position on the stone potentiates solar symbolism (not summat I’m keen on, tbh), which fits into the position and nature of several other cup-and-rings in this region and which I’ll expand on and highlight a little later on.  It is important to remember that this petroglyph and its nearby relatives were once accompanied by a series of tumuli, or prehistoric burial mounds: a feature that is not uncommon in this part of the world.  Well worth having a look at!

…to be continued…


  1. Bennett, Paul, Megalithic Ramblings between Ilkley and Baildon, unpublished: Shipley 1982.
  2. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  3. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  4. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Prehistoric Rock Art of Great Britain: A Survey of All Sites Bearing Motifs more Complex than Simple Cup-marks,” in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, volume 55, 1989.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Baildon Moor Carving (184), West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 14124 40447

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.46 (Hedges)
Carving 184, Baildon Moor

Getting Here

From Baildon, take the road up onto the moors, turning left to go round Baildon Hill, then park-up at the small car-park on the brow of the hill at the edge of the golf course.  Cross the road and take the well-trod footpath diagonally right, heading onto Baildon Moor.  Walk along here for 300 yards and notice the large stone just to your right. You can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

Close-up of cups & faded ring

Listed without real comment in several surveys, this large sloping rock that looks over the north and western landscapes of Rombald’s Moor and beyond, has several simple cup-markings on its surface, one with a faded ring surrounding a cup.  In more recent centuries, someone began to add their own etching onto the stone but, thankfully, stopped before defacing the ancient markings.  I noted this carving in one of my early notebooks, saying only that it “lacked the central design found in others from this region,” being little more than a (seemingly) disorganized array of several marks.

Hedges 1986 drawing

A greater number of other carved stones scatter the grassy flatlands west and south of here, some of which are found in association with prehistoric cairns and lines of walling; but no such immediate relationship is visible here.


  1. Bennett, Paul, Of Cups and Rings and Things, unpublished: Shipley 1981.
  2. Bennett, Paul, Megalithic Ramblings between Ilkley and Baildon, unpublished: Shipley 1982.
  3. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  4. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  5. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Prehistoric Rock Art of Great Britain: A Survey of All Sites Bearing Motifs more Complex than Simple Cup-marks,” in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, volume 55, 1989.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Crook Farm north, Baildon Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13703 39616

Getting Here

This lovely cup-and-ring stone, Baildon Moor

Take the road up alongside and past Shipley Glen, taking the turn to go to Crook Farm caravan site. Go right to the end of the car-park, then walk up through the trees on your left.  Keep going uphill about 100 yards by the field-wall until it starts to level out – and shortly before the first gate into the field (on your right) keep your eyes peeled for the triangular stone in the ground, barely 10 yards away from the walling. You’re damn close!

Archaeology & History

W.E. Preston’s early photo of the carving

For some reason this has always been one of my favourite cup-and-ring stones on Baildon Moor and it’s well worth checking out if you visit the area! It was rediscovered by the Bradford historian W.E. Preston, who photographed the carving around 1912.  Shortly afterwards he took fellow historians Joseph Rycroft and W. Paley Baildon to see this (and others he’d located) and both a drawing and photo of the site was including in Mr Baildon’s (1913) magnum opus the following year.

As you can see from the relative photos—with literally 100 years between them—erosion hasn’t taken too much toll and this neolithic or Bronze Age carving remains in very good condition.

Joseph Rycroft’s early drawing
Close-up of one section

Covered with upwards of fifty cup-markings, there are also two cup-and-rings and numerous carved lines meandering around and enclosing some of the many cups.  It’s a fascinating design, with another ‘Cassiopeia’ cluster of cups in one section, beloved of archaeoastronomers who explore these stones.  Mr Rycroft’s drawing of the design (left) is perhaps the best one, to date.

Along this same ridge there are remains of other prehistoric sites, more cup-and-rings, remains of prehistoric walling and what may be a small cairn circle (to be described later).


  1. Baildon, W. Paley, Baildon and the Baildons – parts 1-15, Adelphi: London 1913-1926.
  2. Bennett, Paul, Of Cups and Rings and Things, unpublished: Shipley 1981.
  3. Bennett, Paul, Megalithic Ramblings between Ilkley and Baildon, unpublished: Shipley 1982.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Hope Farm Field, Baildon Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13856 39599

Getting Here

Cup-marked line of old walling

Whether you come via Shipley Glen or Baildon, head for the Dobrudden caravan park on the western edge of Baildon Hill.  As you get to the entrance of the caravan site, walk down (left) the footpath outside the park itself, looking across the grasslands, left, to the tree-lined wall a coupla hundred yards away.  Head for that.  Then go through the gate into the field where you’ll see a denuded line of walling, with what looks like some standing stones along it.  That’s where you need to be!

Archaeology & History

First noticed on February 12, 2012, this simple cup-marked stone is another one that’s probably only of interest to the purists amongst you.  Found below the southern end of Baildon Hill, due west of the lost Hope Farm cup-and-ring stone, the cup-markings here are on the north-face of an upright stone in an old wall.  It’s obvious that this stone was once earthfast, when the carving faced the zenith or night sky, and has been cut in half and turned 90° making the cups more difficult to notice; and very obviously the rock was originally close to its present position in the walling.

Primary cupmark, right-side of stone
Close-up of cup/s

Found in an area rich in cup-and-ring stones, there’s just one singular cupmark that’s obvious on this stone; but as we looked back and forth, feeling the stone with our fingers, it seemed there may be a couple of others on the rock.  We need to come back here again in better lighting conditions, as opposed to the old grey day She gave us yesterday, and see if the others are real or simple geological marks.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Panorama Stone (226), Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – SE 1015 4702

Also Known as:

  1. Panorama Rock 226

Archaeology & History

J.R. Allen’s 1879 drawing

It would seem that this excellent looking cup-and-ring stone may have been destroyed sometime around 1890 during the construction of the Panorama Reservoir and the building of the houses on the southwestern edge of Ilkley, right by the moorside.  But this isn’t known for certain; and the carving could still exist beneath vegetation in the trees just north of the reservoir.  In requesting to explore some National Archives data in which there may be information relating to this carving (and others nearby), I was directed to Bradford Council’s community archaeologist, Gavin Edwards (to whom requests should be made), but he denied access to look at the files, then completely ignored subsequent queries that might enable us to locate this and other important prehistoric carvings.  So we did our best and this is what we’ve found so far (forgive any errors).

As there’s a slight ambiguity in the precise location of this lost carving, we cannot say for certain whether or not this site was included in the sale of Property Lots, numbers 7-34, “surrounding the far-famed Panorama Rocks,” which may have led to the site’s destruction and subsequent removal of the protected Panorama Stones to Saint Margaret’s Park on the other side of the road from the church, closer to Ilkley centre.  The sale of this “building land” as it was called was advertised in the Leeds Mercury, Saturday September 4, 1880, with a brief description of the respective “lots” near this and the adjacent carvings.  But this Panorama Stone 226 may have been left alone and be buried under the surface…

J.T. Dale’s 1880 sketch

Historical notes on this particular stone are scattered and sparse, but digging through old journals and texts has given us a reasonably good vision of the place.  It was first described, albeit in passing, in A.W. Morant’s edited third edition of Whitaker’s History of Craven (1878: 289), where it was described in context with the other cup-and-ring east of here on the same ridge.  All of them were described as being located within a now-destroyed prehistoric enclosure (precise nature unknown), with carving 226 at the westernmost end.  However, the following year J. Romilly Allen (1879) gave more details of this, “the third stone” as he called it and furnished us with a damn good drawing to boot!

As we can see, there are four double-ringed cups and eight or nine archetypal cup-and-rings, with the usual scatter of cups falling across the design.  The curious ‘ladder’ markings found on one of the other Panorama Stones, the Barmishaw Stone, Willy Hall’s Wood carving and at least one of the Baildon Moor carvings, were also quite prominent.  Although when J. Thornton Dale visited here around the same time and did his own drawings, the ladders weren’t quite as pronounced.  This would have been due to the simple factors of cloud cover, poorer sunlight and the time of day the drawings were done (the pseudoscientific proclamation of local archaeologist Gavin Edwards that such artistic difference is due to some Victorian chap adding, or removing sections of the carvings for his own pleasure, negates common sense and is strongly lacking in evidence).  Romilly Allen’s own description of the site was as follows:

“The Panorama Rock lies one mile south-west of Ilkley, and from a height of 800 feet… About 100 yards to the west of this spot appears to be some kind of rough inclosure, formed of low walls of loose stones, and within it are the three finest sculptured stones near Ilkley. They lie almost in a straight line East to West… The third and most westerly stone of the group measures 10ft. by 9ft. and lies almost horizontally, having its face slightly inclined. On it are carved twenty-seven cups, fourteen of which have concentric rings round them. Some of the cups have connecting grooves, and three have the ladder-shaped pattern before referred to.”

Notes from a few years later told that this carving was still in situ when the companion carvings were moved and imprisoned behind railings across from St. Margaret’s Church in Ilkley.   The carving was shown at the grid reference given above on the 1895 Ordnance Survey map of the region before the reservoir was built, correcting the coordinates given in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) otherwise fine survey.  They described this very ornate carving thus:

“According to Thornton Dale (1880), this was a large rock with 27 cup, eighteen of which had single rings.  Some of the cups had connecting grooves and three had the same ladder motif as the Panorama Stone.”

…to be continued…


  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “The Prehistoric Rock Sculptures of Ilkley,” in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 35, 1879.
  2. Allen, J. Romilly, “Notice of Sculptured Rocks near Ilkley,” in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 38, 1882.
  3. Allen, J. Romilly, “Cup and Ring Sculptures on Ilkley Moor,” in The Reliquary, volume 2, 1896.
  4. Bennett, Paul, The Panorama Stones, Ilkley, TNA: Yorkshire 2012.
  5. Boughey, Keith, “The Panorama Stones,” in Prehistory Research Section Bulletin, no.40, Yorkshire Archaeological Society: Leeds 2003.
  6. Boughey, K.J.S. & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  7. Collyer, Robert & Turner, J.H., Ilkley: Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
  8. Jennings, Hargrove, Archaic Rock Inscriptions, A.Reader: London 1891.
  9. Turner, J. Horsfall, “British or Prehistoric Remains,” in Collyer & Turner, Otley 1885.
  10. Whitaker, Thomas Dunham, The History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven in the County of York, (3rd edition) Joseph Dodgson: Leeds 1878.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Barmishaw Stone, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 11193 46417

Also Known as:

  1. Barnishaw Stone
  2. Carving I/4 (Davies)
  3. Carving no.92 (Hedges)
  4. Carving no.253 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

The Barmishaw Stone

Follow the same directions to reach the superb Badger Stone carving, and from here take the footpath that runs downhill.  You’ll cross another footpath about 100 yards down the moor, but just keep walking down the path and you’ll notice the small copse of woods ahead of you.  As the footpath begins to swerve roughly away, northeast, heading away from the said woodland, keep your eyes peeled on your left for a reasonably large but flattish rock close to the ground (in summer it’s surrounded by bracken) about 75 yards away.  That’s your target!

Archaeology & History

Of the hundreds of cup-and-ring stones on Ilkley Moor and district, this is one of my personal favourites!  I first visited the stone in 1977 as a young teenager and was mightily impressed by the unusual nature of the design here — and that impression still remains.  Aswell as possessing the usual cups and rings, the Barmishaw Stone is one of just a few rocks also possessing a sort of ‘ladder’ design or linear pattern within the overall carving: an insignia echoed on the nearby Willie Hall Wood carving, the Piper Stone, and also on the Panorama Stones.  As with the ‘ladders’ on the Panorama carving, those found here at Barmishaw are very eroded and are increasingly difficult to see during the daytime (the best time to notice them is usually around sunrise or sunset, and particularly when the rock itself is wet).

The carving has been described many times, albeit briefly, by a number of writers.  In John Hedges (1986) fine survey he said the following:

Barmishaw Stone, looking northwest
Barmishaw Stone, looking southeast

“Medium sized flat-topped rock…fairly smooth grit, sloping slightly east to west, covered with carvings, some of which are very worn.  Slanting sunshine needed to detect them.  About twenty-four cups, at least nine with rings or incomplete rings, two with multiple grooves half round and continuing straight down, one of them incorporating ‘ladder.’  Five other ‘ladders’ – in a good light.  Cups mostly deep and clear.”  A few years later, Boughey & Vickerman (2003) echoed much of Mr Hedges description, though noted that of the 24 cups with their rings, one possessed a triple ring.

Alan Davies’ illustration

Like so many cup-and-ring stones, they have given rise to hosts of fascinating theories and ideas — one of which is based on mathematics and metrology.  In the 1980s, Alan Davies (1983, 1988) surveyed the Barmishaw Stone — and other carvings on Ilkley Moor — to explore the possibility that the cups and rings were laid out according to a basic unit of measure, the Megalithic Inch (MI), as proposed by Alexander Thom some years earlier.  Although Davies’ work showed that such a primary unit of measure wasn’t to be found universally, his research at the Barmishaw Stone indicated “significant evidence for quanta of…3 MI,” although this occurred “when the analysis is restricted to only ringed cups.”  Despite this, Davies thought that the existence of the Megalithic Inch was evident in this and other carvings on the moors, stating that:

“The repeated emergence of the significance of ringed cups, and the fact that all putative quanta seem to bear a simple numeric relation to each other do not seem to be coincidental.”

However, the selectivity of data in Davies’ research would indicate more that any Megalithic Inches isolated in the metrology of the carvings was due, not simply to chance, but more that the implements used to carve the rocks and the size of the hands of the people doing the carvings was pretty uniform.  These simplistic factors need assessing.  In modern trials carving cup-markings, we find them to be of similar size to those carved in prehistoric times, as would be expected.

Barmishaw Stone (after Hedges, 1986)
Barmishaw stone (after Cowling 1946)

The ladder motif central to this carving may have related to early religious and ritual events here.  Across the world, indigenous cultures commonly relate the ‘ladder’ to be a symbol of ascension, both by shamans, mystics and during rites of passage.  The symbol represents the journey of the soul to and from supernatural realms.  To discount this possibility at the Barmishaw Stone would be shortsighted.

The carving was very probably painted when our neolithic ancestors gathered here, much as Australian aborigines still do to their carvings using lichens and other plant dyes, with the respective ladders and lines changing colour where movements between worlds or shifts of attendant spirit occurred.  By virtue of the its very name, I consider this rock to have been considerably important; the “ghost” aspect to barmishaw being a typically misconstrued aspect of ‘spirit’.


This excellent cup-and-ring marked stone probably derives its name from the old dialect words “barm i’ t’ shaw”, meaning “ghost in the wood” stone.  Whatever guise the attendant spirit of this rock may have had has long since been forgotten; though spectral accounts from the beginning of the nineteenth century until modern times may give us clues.  There have been several reports of green-coloured elemental creatures around the area between here and the White Wells sacred spring a short distance to the east.  The most recent account, from 1987, took on the modern mythic form of a little green man from space, with attendant UFO to boot!  The Barmishaw Hole nearby was a place where faerie-folk used to live.  Excesses of geological faulting and water makes the magickal nature of this place particularly potent.

…to be continued…


  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “The Prehistoric Rock Sculptures of Ilkley,” in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 35, 1879.
  2. Allen, J. Romilly, “Notice of Sculptured Rocks near Ilkley,” in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 38, 1882.
  3. Bennett, Paul, “Cup-and-Ring Art”, in Towards 2012, volume 4, pp.83-92, 1998.
  4. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  5. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  6. Cowling, E.T., ‘A Classification of West Yorkshire Cup and Ring Stones,’ in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 1940.
  7. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  8. Davis, Alan, ‘The Metrology of Cup & Ring Carvings near Ilkley in Yorkshire,’ Science Journal 25, 1983.
  9. Davies, Alan, ‘The Metrology of Cup and Ring Carvings,’ in Ruggles, C., Records in Stone, Cambridge University Press 1988.
  10. Eliade, Mircea, Patterns in Comparative Religion, Sheed & Ward: London 1958.
  11. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  12. Wright, Joseph, The English Dialect Dictionary – volume 1, Henry Frowde: Oxford 1905.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

King Common Rough, Heptonstall, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SD 95303 30997

Also Known as:

  1. Black Scout carving

Getting Here

The carved rock in its setting

From Hebden Bridge, take the Heptonstall road and go past the legendary Slack Bottom (no lies!), until a few hundred yards further on at Slack Top, take the Widdop road on the right. Amble the long and winding road for a mile – mebbe a bit more – until the valley on your right runs out of trees! (on the OS-map this is called Hebden Dale, but it’s generally known as Hardcastle Crags [after the name of the rock outcrop halfway up]). Just about here there’s a track to your left, by the rather desolate bus-stop! If you hit the wibbly hair-pin bend by the Blake Dean scout-hut, you’ve gone too far. Walk along the track for a coupla hundred yards and take the first opportunity you have to cross the deep dike on your immediate left. Then just walk along the edge of the stream itself until you reach the large rocks another few hundred yards along.

Archaeology & History

As Richard Stroud’s photo above shows, this is a beautiful spot — when the weather is good anyway!  Much of the landscape around you is scattered with occult history and folklore: boggarts, witches, corpse routes, spirit animals, old stone crosses, standing stones and more! A damn good day out can be had in this area by any enthusiastic antiquarian or enquiring heathen.

Cups and faint rings

The carving we have here is an almost typical cup-and-ring stone, but it’s pretty isolated with no other ringed companions anywhere on these hills.  It was first described in David Shepherd’s (2003) survey of prehistoric remains of the region — although I was initially a little cautious about the veracity of David’s findings, as some cup-marked stones in his survey are probably natural and some “standing stones” he cites nearby are simply natural earthfast rocks.  But this particular carving seems man-made with large faint rings encircling at least one of the cup-marks, as you can see in Richard Stroud’s photo here.  In Mr Shepherd’s survey, he said of this site:

“A prominent double boulder.  On the top surface are two eroded cup marks by the south edge and one by the north edge.  Two eroded cup marks with rings are on the northwest segment.”


  1. Shepherd, David, “Prehistoric Activity in the Central South Pennines,” in Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society, new series, volume 11, 2003.

Acknowledgements:  With thanks to Richard Stroud for use of his photos in this site profile.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Panorama Stone (229), Ilkley, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stones:  OS Grid Reference – SE 11471 47289

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.99 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.229 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  3. Panorama Rock

Getting Here

Come out of Ilkley/bus train station and turn right for less than 50 yards, turning left up towards White Wells.  Go up here for less than 100 yards, taking your first right and walk up Queens Road until you reach the St. Margaret’s church on the left-hand side.  On the other side of the road, aswell as a bench to sit on, a small enclosed bit with spiky railings all round houses our Panorama Stones.

Archaeology & History

J.R. Allen’s 1879 drawing

There were originally ten or eleven carvings that made up what have been called the Panorama Stones and the position they are presently housed in this awful fenced section wasn’t their original home.  They used to live a half-mile further up from here, on the moorland edge, just in the woodland at the back of the small Intake Reservoir in the appropriately named Panorama Woods. But in 1890, one Dr. Little — medical officer at Ben Rhydding Hydro — bought the stones for £10 from the owner of the land at Panorama Rocks, as the area in which the stones lived was due to be vandalized and destroyed.  Thankfully the said Dr Little was thoughtful and as a result of his payment he had some of the stones saved and moved into the position where they live today.  However, as a result of the stones being transported closer to Ilkley, the largest of the carvings was damaged and broken in two pieces on its journey, but the good doctor and his mates restored the rock as best they could before sitting it down in the caged position where it remains to this day.

Thankfully there remain a couple of carved rocks in situ in the trees near where these companions originally came from — though they’re completely overgrown.   We uncovered these carvings (one of which was quite ornate) when we were children, but this is now overgrown again and hidden from the eyes of the casual forager.  The original position of these carvings was obviously an important feature to our ancestors, but such aspects are of little relevance to industrialists and those lacking sacred notions of the Earth.  The same geological ridge on which the Panorama Stones were originally found, stretching west along the moor edge from here, possesses a number of other fascinating carvings, not least of which is our Swastika Stone.

J.T. Dale’s 1880-ish drawing
T.Pawson’s late-1870s photo, showing faint ladder marks

It seems they were all first recorded by one J. Thornton Dale, who did some fine illustrations of each stone, which were then collected and organized by a certain Dr. Call of Ilkley in 1880 as a ‘Collection of fourteen drawings of cup-marked rocks.’  These were on file at Ilkley Library (or at least used to be!) and as they’ve not been published previously, I think they need to be retrieved from their dusty shelves and stuck on TNA where they certainly belong!  As we can see in Dale’s illustration — etched shortly after the stone was first discovered — much of the detail of the multiple-rings and some of the curious ladder-like motifs were noted (though not all).

Around the same time in 1879, the renowned archaeologist J. Romilly Allen did an early article on the carved stones of Ilkley Moor, selecting the Panorama Stones as one site in his essay. He was very fortunate in getting an early look at the carvings here and gave the following lucid account:

“The Panorama Rock lies one mile south-west of Ilkley, and from a height of 800ft above the sea commands a magnificent view over Wharfedale and the surrounding country.   About 100 yards to the west of this spot appears to be a kind of rough inclosure, formed of low walls of loose stones, and within it are three of the finest sculptured stones near Ilkley.  They lie almost in a straight line east and west, the first stone being 5ft from the second, and the second 100ft from the third.  The turf was stripped from the first a few years ago, and its having been covered up so long probably accounts for the sculpture being in such good preservation.  It measures 10ft by 7ft, and is im- bedded so deeply in the ground that its upper horizontal surface scarcely rises above the level of the surrounding heath.  The sculpture consists of twenty-five cups, eighteen of which are surrounded with concentric rings, varying from one to five in number.  The most remarkable feature in the design is the very curious ladder-shaped arrangement of grooves by which the rings are intersected and joined together.  I do not think that this peculiar type of carving occurs anywhere else besides near Ilkley.  The second stone is of irregular shape, measuring 15ft by 12ft, and supporting a smaller stone of triangular shape 6ft long by 4ft broad.  Both upper and under stone are covered with cups and rings, but the sculptures have suffered much from exposure.  The superimposed block has eleven cups, two of which are surrounded by single rings.  The under stone has forty-two cups, nine of which have rings.  Amongst these are two unusually fine examples, one has an oval cup 5in by 4in, surrounded by two rings, the diameter of the outer ring being 1ft 3in.  Another has a circular cup 3in diameter and five concentric rings, the outer ring being 1ft 5in across. The third and most westerly stone of the group measures 10ft by 9ft, and lies almost horizontally, having its face slightly inclined.  On it are carved twenty-seven cups, fourteen of which have concentric rings round them.  Some of the cups have connecting grooves and three have the ladder-shaped pattern before referred to.  Several stones near have cup marks without rings.”

Heywood’s artistic effort!
E.T. Cowling’s drawing

When Harry Speight (1900) visited these stones a few years later he echoed much that Romilly Allen had said previously, also commenting on how on certain parts of the carving, “the rings enclosing each cup are connected with ladder-like markings.” (my italics, PB)  These “ladders” were even mentioned in a speculative but inaccurate essay by Nathan Heywood (1888) in a paper for the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society.  Equally important was a description of the site when members of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society visited the Panorama Stones in 1884, and Rev. A.C. Downer (1884) described this “most important group” of stones, saying that

“Near the Panorama Rock are three large masses of ironstone close together, and averaging ten to twelve feet across each way, the horizontal surface of which are covered with cups and rings, and two of these stones have also a peculiar arrangement of grooves somewhat resembling a ladder in form.”

Modern Folklore

Despite this and other descriptions, in recent times local archaeologist and rock art student Gavin Edwards has propounded the somewhat spurious notion that the ladders and perhaps other parts of the Panorama Stone carvings have a recent Victorian origin, executed by a local man by the name of Mr Ambrose Collins.  Edwards took this silly idea to the Press, thinking he’d found something original, following a recovery of some notes from the Ilkley Gazette newspaper (earlier archaeologists had already explored this, which he should have been aware of), in which was stated that the said Mr Collins told other people in the Ilkley area that he was carving some of the old stones on the moors nearby.  Now we know that Collins did this (we have at least 3 examples of his ‘rock art’ in our files), but he wasn’t allowed to touch the Panorama Stones!

Panorama Stone 229 (by James Elkington)
Close-up of multiple rings (by James Elkington)

However, despite Gavin Edwards’ theory, it is clear that Ambrose Collins was not responsible for any additional features on the Panorama Stones: an opinion shared by other archaeologists and rock art specialists.  Edwards’ theory can be clearly shown as incorrect from a variety of sources (more than the examples I give here).

In no particular order…there was an early photo of the main stone (above), taken sometime in the late-1870s by Thomas Pawson of Bradford which shows, quite clearly, some of the faded “ladder” motifs on the rock in question while the stone was still in situ.  There is also an additional and important factor that Edwards has seemingly ignored, i.e., that neither J.Romilly Allen, Harry Speight, members of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, nor any of their contemporaries made any comments regarding additional new motif elements carved onto these rocks when they visited the carvings at the period Edwards is suggesting Collins did his additions — which such acclaimed historians would certainly have mentioned.  Mr Edwards theory, as we can see, was a little lacking in research.  Considering only these small pieces of evidence, the pseudoscientific nonsense of the Victorian carving theory can safely be assigned to the dustbin!

Close-up showing faint ladders (by James Elkington)
Close-up under lighting (by James Elkington)

If however, we do use Mr Edwards’ reasoning: take a look at the modern “accurate” drawing of this carving in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) book—which actually, somehow, misses elements of the carving that are clearly shown in Mr Pawson’s 1890’s photo and are still visible to this day! What are we to make of that?  Have these modern folk been at it with the sand paper!?  We can only conclude that these simple errors show a lack of research.  The most worrying element here is that a local archaeologist can make such simplistic errors in his analysis of prehistoric and Victorian carvings without checking over publicly accessible data.  Even more disconcerting was the fact that he was running Ilkley’s local prehistoric rock art group!

However, we cannot dismiss out of hand the words of the said Ambrose Collins in his proclamation of carving stones on the moors, as there is clear evidence that he did a replica of the Swastika Stone on rocks near the original site of the Panorama Stones.  The carving he did is very clearly much more recent.  We have also found one carving with Collins’ initials — ‘A.C.’ — carved on it and the date ‘1876’ by its side.

And although we can safely dismiss the Edward’s Theory about the Panorama Stones “ladders”, we may need to reconsider a number of other carvings on Rombald’s Moor as potentially Victorian in nature using the rationale Edwards proclaimed.  For example — and using the disproved Edwards Theory — when we look at Romilly Allen’s drawing of the famous Badger Stone (from the same essay in which his image of the Panorama Stone is here taken), much of the carving as it appears today was not accounted for in the drawing.  We can also look selectively at many other cup-and-rings on these moors and find discrepancies in form, such as with the Lattice Stone on Middleton Moor, north of Ilkley, or the eroded variations on the Lunar Stone.  We have to take into consideration that some may have been added to; but more importantly, we must also be extremely cautious in the movement between our idea and the authenticity of such an idea.  It is a quantum leap unworthy of serious consideration without proof. (though the example of the Lattice Stone has a markedly different style and form to the vast majority of others on the moors north and south of here. Summat’s “not quite right” with that one and the comical Mr Collins might have had his joking hands on that one perhaps…)

One very obvious reason that a number of the cup-and-ring carvings were not drawn correctly by historians and archaeologists alike, would be the weather!  Archaeologists are renowned for heading for cover when the heavens open, quickly finishing their jottings and running for cover — and this would obviously have been the case with some of the drawings, both early and modern.  Bad eyesight and poor lighting conditions is also another reason some of the carvings have been drawn incorrectly, as a number of modern archaeology texts — including a number in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) book — illustrate to any diligent student!

There is still a lot more to say about this fascinating group of carvings, which I’ll add occasionally as time goes by.  And if anyone has any good clear photos of the stones showing the intricate carved designs that we can add to this profile, please send ’em in (all due credit and acknowledgements will be given).

…to be continued…


  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “The Prehistoric Rock Sculptures of Ilkley,” in Journal of British Archaeological Association, volume 35, 1879.
  2. Bennett, Paul, The Panorama Stones, Ilkley, TNA: Yorkshire 2012.
  3. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  4. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  5. Downer, A.C., “Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Association,” in Leeds Mercury, August 28, 1884.
  6. Hadingham, Evan, Ancient Carvings in Britain, Souvenir Press: London 1974.
  7. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  8. Heywood, Nathan, “The Cup and Ring Stones of the Panorama Rocks”, in Trans. Lancs & Cheshire Anti. Soc.: Manchester 1889.
  9. Hotham, John Paul, Halos and Horizons, Hotham Publishing: Leeds 2021.
  10. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to the staff at Ilkley Library for their help in unearthing the old drawings and additional references enabling this site profile.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Clach a’ Choire, Vaul, Tiree

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NM 027 487

Also Known as:

  1. Kettle Stone
  2. Ringing Stone
  3. Singing Stone

Archaeology & History

This is a fascinating large coastal boulder with around 53 cup-markings on it — but whether these are all man-made is a matter of debate.  Some of them may be natural.  However some of the cups have lines and faint rings around them, showing that at least they’re man-made; and also in one of the large cups are placed small pebbles, similar in form to the well-known Butter Rolls, or bullaun stone at Feaghna, Ireland.


This large boulder (suggested to have been dragged and dropped here from the Isle of Rhum in an earlier Ice Age) is known in the modern tongue as the ‘Ringing Stone’ because, allegedly, if you knock the surface hard with another stone it supposedly chimes with a metallic noise.  As one of the links below shows, however, it doesn’t necessarily do the trick!  Local folklore tells that if the stone is ever destroyed, or falls off its present platform of smaller stones, Tiree itself will sink beneath the waves.  Other lore tells that this great rock is hollow; and another that it contains a great treasure. According to Otta Swire (1964),

“Some believe this to be a treasure of gold, others claim it to be the resting place of the Feinn who there await the call to rescue Scotland.”


  1. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – volume 3: Mull, Tiree, Coll and Northern Argyll, HMSO: Edinburgh 1980.
  2. Swire, Otta F., Inner Hebrides and their Legends, Collins: London 1964.


  1. Images of the Clach a’ Choire, from the Images of Tiree website.
  2. Brief video of Tiree’s Ringing Stone (which doesn’t seem to work too well!)

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian